CT, QVC, Les Mis, and musing about music


I had a lovely weekend – I hope you did too.

First of all, from midnight Friday to midnight Saturday (or 11-11 in my time zone), I had QVC on television.  Now usually they have had all 24 hours dedicated to all things Irish for St. Pat’s Day, but this year they dedicated only 11 hours to the merchandise.  Which meant I could doze, or see what else was available.  But I had, with much austereness in spending, dedicated up to $200 (preferably $150, but I was prepared) to spend on Irish things, and had a brand-new debit card (yes, I have made up with Wells Fargo – I loved them for eight years, and wasn’t going to leave them now) to spend.  I managed to get the Celtic Thunder Voyage DVD and CD, two pieces of Connemara Marble jewelry, a heart-shaped necklace with silver shamrocks, and matching earrings), and the covered basket-weave dish from Belleek.  No sweaters, no Waterford crystal, no other jewelry.  There are a couple of items I hope to get during the Rose of Tralee program in September, so again, I have to save money towards that.

Then last night (Sunday), I watched once again the 25th anniversary show of Les Miserables.  I have this on tape, but since PBS was playing it again, I decided to watch.  Part of that was because of being able to see the cast from the 10th (minus Michael McGuire), and interest in Ramin Kaminloo, who played Enjolras, after I had seen him in Phantom of the Opera earlier in the week.

And as I was watching the show, I started thinking about how varied my interests in music are, and began to realize how lucky I am that I was not only given the ability to recognize various forms of music, but the ability to make music myself, and the ear to hear the beauty in it.  Perhaps this is why I never got into metal or rap.  It is not musical.

Anyway, I started back with the big band sounds from the 40s into the mid-50s, the music I enjoyed from those eras.  Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, the McGuire Sisters.  Then I was in junior high for the first of the rock and roll era.  The rock Tommy Sands, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydel, Danny and the Juniors, Dion and the Belmonts, The Royal Teens (short shorts). the Everly Brothers.  Then the transition through the late 50s-early 60s, many of the same folks, Frankie, Bobby, and a period of time when I got heavily into country, Tammy, Webb Pierce, Bill Anderson.

Then the wonderful 60s era of music, the British Invasion and all the rock and pop and soul coming out of California and Detroit.  So many musicians did I love, too many to name.  I was on top of the world.  And in that period of time, I also heard a bit of country.  I learned to love Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Brian Jones of the Stones, who tragically died early, Jim Morrison, Mamas and Papas who lost Mama Cass, the Beach Boys who lose two of the brothers, Eric Burdon of the Animals (who doesn’t belong in this list because he’s still alive), and way too many to mention.  I saw some of them in concert in Corpus Christi.

Then came the disco era of the 70s, I was a bit more picky then.  I did like KC and the Sunshine Band, the BGs (though I really liked their 60s music more than their 70s disco), ABBA, a band I still listen to on CDs, and even a tune from Nazareth called Love Hurts.

I got heavily into the “New Age” scene of the late 80s-early 90s, and segued into my beloved Celtic music in the mid-90s, when I produced a Celtic music show in the mid-90s on a local public radio station, and went to several Irish music festivals, including the one in New York state where I met the Irish Tommy Sands, Johnny Cunningham, Liz Carroll, and several other musicians from Ireland and Scotland and Canada, and even the good ol’ US, and which love stays with me foremost now, including the wonderful Celtic Thunder, Blaggard, Switchback, Michael Londra, Sephira, and many others.

But, throughout all of these eras, my love for the classics – Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Tschaikovsky, Handel – never stopped.  I was singing in choirs, singing the music of many of the classical composers, including the Messiah, which I performed three times.  I was in a wind ensemble where we played from pop to classical (The Four Seasons, The Planets), playing the flute I took up in the mid-50s in junior high school, through high school band and orchestra.  I have had guitars and I have a penny whistle.  I can play by ear, although I do not have perfect pitch (the ability to recognize what key a piece is being played in, nor the ability to sing an A when someone asks me to).

I have loved some opera, though I probably couldn’t name any specific operas other than the one Nessun Dorma comes from, which I cannot do right now – I’d have to think about it.  I have come to love voices that sing operatic music, mixed with non-operatic songs, like Russell Watson, who sings Nessun Dorma, along with Barcelona and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

And I have always loved Show Tunes, but lately Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Cameron Mackintosh.  I have seen Cats, A Chorus Line (twice), Phantom of the Opera, and hope to see Les Mis in May – all here in Austin.  And I know it is the music I go for because I couldn’t begin to tell you who played the roles in the shows in Austin – I just know they were road-touring companies.  But I cannot leave out the names of the ones I particularly love – Michael Crawford, Michael Ball, Michael McGuire, Colm Wilkonson (all those Michaels), and now to that list I have added Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser, who played the Phantom and Raoul in the 25th anniversary of Phantom, recently seen and written about.

Nor can I leave out the writers of the fabulous music in movies – Mark Knopfler (Local Hero), Hans Zimmer, James Horner, the man named Shore who write the music for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even Randy Newman.  Nor should I forget the names of people who just write lovely music – like Brendan Graham, who wrote You Raise Me Up, or the Canadian who wrote Hallelujah.  Yes, my memory is a little off sometimes, these days, but I don’t forget, I just cannot always bring them up the moment I want them.

Finally, let me list Phil Coulter, who writes some of the most beautiful contemporary and Celtic music, and Frank Sinatra, who I loved throughout his whole career, and who I would like to see Damian McGinty play in the movies.

Now, as a result of all this, I have to say that maybe the reason I have never been really in love with anyone in real life is because music has always ruled my emotions.  Oh, I’ve had sex, but it was more a biological enjoyment as opposed to being in love with someone.  No, love has passed me by, in reality, while I have had numerous crushes, and “luvs”, and even to this day still find myself falling “in luv” with men much my junior.  And so I don’t feel like I’ve really missed anything.  Because I can always depend on the music to stir my emotions, give me goosebumps, and just plain thrill me.

Some other time I’ll write about books, and my feeling blessed to be able to read.  And perhaps food, which meets my requirements for the sense of taste.  Hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, feeling – all of my senses have been well taken care of over the years, and love, true love for a single human being, has just never been a part of my psyche.  God/dess does work in mysterious ways.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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